We have previously discussed the illegal theft and regulation of privately owned intellectual property by the United States government and its technology industry.
One prominent vector by which this is accomplished is in the digital fabrication sphere. Since the 3D printing boom began in the first half of the 2010s, independent manufacturers and developers of 3D printing hardware and software have been snapped up by large corporations. What was once an open ecosystem driven forward by idealistic, thoughtful semi-professionals is now viewed as a struggling revenue stream, particularly in the consumer and prosumer spaces, with applications that in some cases run counter to these companies' broader goals.
As such, there have been efforts to centralize and corrupt the ecosystem to a significant degree. Amazon, for example, maintains a superficially-large selection of parts and materials for 3D printers, yet few are quality-checked: perhaps as much as 25% or more of their product catalog in parts consists of items that are totally non-functional due to major design flaws.
The website for Slic3r, the main free and open-source client-side 3D model gcode generator available today, offered up versions for United States users for quite some time that contained malicious code permitting remote intrusion and code execution on users' computers. We are thus far unable to confirm the entity responsible for this.
Other 3D model GCode generators create similar major code-related faults. Current versions of Simplify3D, for example, no longer produce structurally-sound solid parts. This is accomplished purposefully by irregular interruptions in the volume of extruded plastic at structurally-important points in a model and is also true of several other GCode generators.
In our view, these changes may have been implemented due to a desire to regulate the printing of functional firearms, or simply to drive prototyping of physical products to specialists - yet they have stymied efforts at high-quality self-production of any 3D printed item.
While there can be no doubt that the existence of several functional proof-of-concept 3D printed firearms is potentially a worry for governments, illegal and undisclosed regulation of software is an extremely slippery slope in our view, particularly as it relates to the purposeful disabling of software that was functional at the time of sale. On this basis there is now cause for a class action lawsuit against Simplify3D by its clients, for example.
In light of the above, we built from source code a version of Slic3r with verified integrity over a Debian 8/LXDE based live USB installation. Due to intellectual property, security, and production integrity concerns, we do not recommend running any 3D model GCode generator from your primary 'bare iron' operating system installation, nor can we recommend cloud-based GCode generators such as AstroPrint. We have therefore built Slic3r LIVE entirely without software support for network connectivity. You can write Slic3r LIVE to a 4GB or larger USB flash drive on Windows using Rufus, or using the following command at a Linux terminal prompt:
sudo dd if=/path/to/image6.dd of=/dev/id_of_your_flashdrive bs=1M && sync
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